One of the biggest misconceptions about eating healthy is that it’s too expensive.
Yes, those fancy organic, vegan, gluten-free kale cookies may be costly, but the healthiest foods don’t come in a package, and you can enjoy them affordably with a little bit of know-how. Here are the top ways to save money and eat well at the same time.
When you’re buying dry goods and pantry staples such as dried beans, lentils, quinoa, nuts, seeds, and grains, bulk is the way to go. Not only do you save by not shelling out for the packaging, you also can buy what you need, so you’re not stuck with extras you won’t use or that will go bad.
Forget the frozen lasagna and the mushy vegetables with icky sauces—plain frozen produce is an excellent choice for the savvy healthy shopper. It’s convenient, less expensive, and equally—if not more—nutritious. Frozen produce is picked when ripe and at peak nutrition, and flash-frozen right away to retain maximum nutrients. By contrast, the “fresh” fruits and vegetables you get in the produce section are often picked early when under-ripe to withstand traveling and warehousing before they get to the store, which could be days, weeks, or even months later. Once a fruit or vegetable is picked, the nutrients generally start to diminish with time. So, although fresh local produce is your best bet, don’t be afraid to supplement with frozen. Another plus: If you don’t use up all of the fresh produce you buy, it spoils and you end up wasting it, but with frozen you cook what you need and leave the rest in the freezer for another meal.
Store brands, also known as private labels, have come a long way from the “generics” of years past. Whole Foods 365, Trader Joe’s brand, Costco’s Kirkland Signature, and other store brands are generally well rated by consumers. Of course, with any packaged food, always read the ingredient list to make sure you’re getting clean, recognizable ingredients.
One of the best ways to save money is to plan and batch cook your meals. Spending just an hour or two cooking on the weekends can save you time during the week, so you eat more homemade items and less pricey takeout. Plus, meal planning and batch cooking can save you from wasting food.